Saturday, May 24, 2008

Canada high

Support for our strike has attracted global support. Messages backing our stance have ranged from as far afield as the United States of America, Singapore and Romania.

But one of the most endearing was from a care worker in Canada who was holidaying in York. He asked was there any way of contributing to the strike fund and when being told there was a collection bucket, he proceeded to put in a sizeable amount of cash.

Pressed as to why he should be so generous, he recalled how he and his co-workers had undertaken their first strike for three decades in his native Canada.

He said: "The local newspaper there was extremely supportive to our campaign for fair pay and through their assistance we were able to win a 25 per cent pay deal. I hope yourselves at York achieve your demand for fair pay. It is vital that unions stick together and fight for what they believe to be right."

Watching Gannett, watching us

News of our strike has now gone transatlantic after the story was picked up by Gannett Watch, a US-based blog that keeps an eagle-eye trained on the doings of the American conglomerate that owns Newsquest and indeed The Press and the Gazette & Herald. Click here to see the post.

Call for petition signatures

Since launching our petition on Friday, we have collected hundreds of signatures from people who agree journalists at The Press and the Gazette & Herald should be paid a fair wage. We now have an e-petition to accompany it and to allow supporters elsewhere to register their backing. Click here to add your signature.

Video documents strike day

We now have a short video explaining why we are striking alongside footage of the first day on the picket line:

Time to press our MPs

A parliamentary motion has been lodged calling on Newsquest to give its York journalists a decent pay rise. Early Day Motion 1639 has been sponsored by Labour MP John McDonnell, secretary of the NUJ's parliamentary group. To contact your MP, log on to The motion reads as follows:

That this House notes with disappointment the below-inflation pay rise offered to journalists at Newsquest York; further notes that Gannett, Newsquest's US parent company, made a profit last year of over $1 billion; is concerned that the journalists at Newsquest York work hard to deliver good quality local news to the community in difficult circumstances of increasing workloads and understaffing; believes that high quality journalism is essential to any democratic society and recognises that poor conditions and inadequate pay threaten this provision; supports the strike action taken by National Union of Journalists members at Newsquest York; and urges the management to enter into meaningful dialogue with staff over pay and conditions.

Donations still pouring in

The strike fund is still going strong. Today we had £180 donated by one good friend of the union and about £50 from members of the public, no doubt helped by Daniel's fine fiddling.

Yesterday afternoon, Richard Edwards of the Leeds NUJ Branch paid a visit to our picket line. He had whip-round among his workmates at the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post which raised an extra £138 for our strike fund. This was incredible given that the chapel and branch had together already donated £750. So we owe a big thank you to Leeds members.

This all takes our total of received and pledged donations to somewhere near £3,600 - a simply incredible figure. We never expected to received such wonderful solidarity, so thank you all.

Minster fire alert scoop for NUJ journalists

Another exclusive for strike paper The Stress's reporters...

HUNDREDS of York residents and tourists looked on as emergency services swooped on the city's Minster this afternoon. Four fire engines and police rushed to the historic church shortly before 5pm after the fire alam sounded. After an anxious examination of the building it was found to have been a false alarm. It was believed to have been sparked by either bellringers or workmen disturbing dust in the bell tower. NUJ journalists were on the scene and pictures will follow soon. Where were The Press? Remember, you read it here first.

Picture copyright NUJ Newsquest York Chapel. All rights reserved.

General Secretary joins picket line

On the third day of our strike, picketers were in bouyant mood as we were accompanied by violin and guitar outside Newsquest York's offices.

We started at 8.30am and were joined by the NUJ's General Secretary Jeremy Dear, pictured, who emphasised we had the full support of the union behind us.

Richard Foster, a subeditor at The Press and composer of our strike ballad, was joined by his son and fiddler Daniel to keep our spirits high at the mid-point of our five-day action. He played a range of Scottish, Irish and even Norwegian fiddle tunes to keep the line's feet tapping. Then we had a number of rousing renditions of our strike song Things I Learnt This Year.

Members of the NUT and Unison joined us to help hand our fliers and press our case. At noon the group of about 15 union members headed into the city centre and set up our stall on Parliament Street. We handed out copies of our strike newspaper The Stress - today with an exclusive York Knights rugby league story - and encouraged shoppers to sign our petition demanding Newsquest give us a fair pay rise.

We will be back again tomorrow to show there will be no let up in our demand for fair pay . To see highlights from today, watch this video: